Death Watch: Court of Criminal Appeals Stays Halprin's Execution

The case has been sent back to trial court for review

On Friday, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals granted Randy Halprin a stay of execution for his pending Thursday, Oct. 10, death date and sent the case back to his Dallas trial court for review.

Halprin, who is Jewish, alleged in a last-minute appeal that the judge in his 2003 trial, Vickers Cunningham, was a bigot whose racism tainted rulings on jury selection, admission of evidence, and attorney objections. His lawyers are seeking a new trial.

Evidence of Cunningham’s bigotry came to light last year when The Dallas Morning News reported that he had established a trust granting his children shares of their inheritance if they married white, straight Christians. Subsequent investigation by Halprin’s attorneys uncovered evidence that Cunningham chronically used hate speech such as “kike,” “wetback,” and “nigger” to refer to defendants who came before him. Halprin’s request for a retrial has wide support. One hundred Jewish attorneys and community leaders filed a brief in his favor and Dallas District Attorney John Creuzot, in an unusual move, did not oppose the request.

Tivon Schardl, Halprin’s lawyer said the high court’s decision to stay Halprin’s execution is “a signal that bigotry and bias are unacceptable in the criminal justice system. … A fair trial requires an impartial judge – and Mr. Halprin did not have a fair and neutral judge when his life was at stake.”

Halprin is the second death row inmate to receive a stay this week. On Thursday, Oct. 3, the district court of Henderson County stayed the execution of Randall Mays, scheduled for October 16, so that it can review medical records submitted by his attorneys. Mays is mentally ill but was cleared for execution by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last year. His story will be covered in detail in next week’s issue.

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Death Watch, Randy Halprin, Vickers Cunningham, Randall Mays, Tivon Schardl

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